Dick Kempthorne headshot

Dirk Kempthorne

Co-Chair, Former Governor of Idaho (R)

Dirk Kempthorne was confirmed as the 49th Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 26, 2006, in a voice vote by the U.S. Senate. Kempthorne took the oath of office on the same day.

Prior to his confirmation as Secretary, Kempthorne served nearly two terms as Governor of Idaho, elected first in 1998 and reelected in 2002.

As Governor, Kempthorne worked to develop consensus on management of Idaho's and the West's natural resources. He worked with his colleagues in Oregon, Washington, and Montana to develop a historic bipartisan agreement on a state-based solution for returning salmon runs in the region. Following the devastating wildfires of 2000, he worked with fellow western governors and federal officials to fundamentally change the approach to forest health and wildfire management. Under his leadership, Idaho developed wolf and grizzly bear management plans aimed at delisting on the endangered species and giving the State of Idaho management responsibilities.

Before his terms as Governor, Kempthorne completed a successful six-year term in the United States Senate (1993-1999). As a Senator, he wrote, negotiated, and won passage of two major pieces of legislation: a bill to end unfunded federal mandates on state and local governments, and a substantial revision of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. He also worked to improve the quality of life for American active-duty military personnel, reservists, their families, and veterans.

Dirk Kempthorne began his commitment to public service as the highly successful Mayor of the City of Boise (1985-1992). During his seven years in office, he helped direct a renaissance in the state's capital city that resulted in record growth, economic development, and numerous national honors and recognitions for quality of life, business climate, and family issues.

Secretary Kempthorne has been recognized by his peers as a national leader. As Governor, his colleagues elected him as the Chairman of the National Governors Association in August of 2003. He has served as President of the Council of State Governments and Chairman of the Western Governors Association. He served on the Executive Committees of the National Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association. Secretary of Education Rod Paige appointed then-Governor Kempthorne to the National Assessment Governing Board and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge appointed him to the Homeland Security Task Force.

Secretary Kempthorne and his wife Patricia are both University of Idaho graduates and have two grown children, Heather and Jeff.

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